"Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life." 2 Nephi 31:20

Monday, July 14, 2014

Get Out of the Way

In a final attempt to shine a light as to what it is that we do as missionaries, I will try to detail a few experiences I have seen along my mission. I especially dedicate this email to those who are hesitant in their decision as to whether or not they should serve a mission.

Starting the mission I had no idea what to expect. For one reason or another I quickly realized I had no idea what being a missionary was really like. As I started the mission and had sensed my neglect of asking about the missions of my brothers, brothers-in-law, father, grandparents, cousins, and just about everyone else. It started to hit me as my oldest brother William asked me a week before leaving on the mission on a road trip from his home in Arkansas towards New Orleans. He turned to me and asked, "So, what are your expectations for your mission." I was caught off-guard. I had absolutely no idea what to respond. After thinking a bit, I responded, "Well, if nothing else, I'll come back learning Spanish." I could tell he wasn't too impressed with my answer, but it was the only thing I could muster out at the time.

Not only until I got to Mexico did I read in the beginning of the Missionary Handbook a quote from Brigham Young that said, "If you go on a mission to preach the Gospel with lightness and frivolity in your hearts, looking for this and that, and to learn what is in the world, you will go and return in vain..." I didn't feel like I was there for the wrong reasons, but what exactly was I looking for? Baptisms? People to teach? As I looked outside I could see there were plenty of seemingly uninterested people all around me. How was I to know what to do?

Take a few moments to think of what you think a missionary does. What kind of things fill up your day? I thought, eat, walk, preach, repeat. What else is there? I felt kind of like Prince Derek frm the Swan Princess and getting the same reaction from the princess, saying, "What do you mean what else is there? Of course there is more!" If you look very superficially you will see the boring routine, but the magic is is the moment. From outside you will never feel the same as you do within.

I still remember the blind Elder that showed up to the MTC that Elder Milovidov helped get around and that did everything that was required of him and accepted things as they were. I remember several of my companions helping me when I was myself helpless. The mission is about helping others and forgetting about yourself. In my first interview with my Branch President in the MTC I hardly remember what was said. But one thing I do remember. He told me as I walked in, "Elder, these next two years aren't about you." He continued to explain that if I could focus on others I would never have a personal problem for the next two years. Shortly after, just leaving the MTC, I turned to a good friend of mine who was a teacher there at the time, Pat Matherson, and he gave me what he said the best advice he ever got, "Just get out of the way."

What do you mean get out of the way? I didn't even know I was blocking anything. What do you mean, Pat? He wouldn't tell me.

As time has gone on, it would seem that all has worked together to help me lay aside some of my own personal cares to help someone else. That the mission makes you yourself much more humble that you have a higher capacity to serve others. As we put our will with the Lord's, miracles can occur. Each day as we become more like Christ, we will better serve the people around us. I hesitate to use myself as an example, but if you can see anything of good report in what I have done; may it bless you. May my example be joined with those of many others, and with that of our Savior, Jesus Christ, to benefit every person in partaking of the many blessings of this gospel.

"Condemn me not because of mine imperfection, neither my father, because of his imperfection, neither them who have written before him; but rather give thanks unto God that he hath made manifest unto you our imperfections, that ye may learn to be more wise than we have been." Mormon 9:31

"wherefore, I conclude this record, declaring that I have written according to the best of my knowledge, by saying that the time passed away with us, and also our lives passed away like as it were unto us a dream" Jacob 7:26

For the last time,
Elder Andrews

P.S. Last week was Elder Hernandez' birthday. The mission forget to put his name in the announcements and he got really sad. But here it is tradition to throw flour and eggs and confetti at the birthday kid, so, with him right next to me as always I was able to help organize 4 different surprise parties with the help of the members, and he said it was his best birthday ever. Enjoy the picture after we got back from playing soccer in the morning.

Elder Hernadez covered with flour, eggs, and confetti for his birthday!
Elder Andrews enjoying the view after a morning of soccer.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Extra Innings

News is, yes, the earthquake did hit the mission this morning at 6:20 AM, and it was pretty big. Good news is that we were playing soccer so we didn't feel a thing and there was nothing to fall on us while on a field (nothing fell down anyway). But, really only the people that were standing still felt it. So, even if I would have been asleep, you don't feel those things in your hammock. :)

So, this week I'll just mention what has gone on with Jorge, one of our latest miracles--the one we invited to Stake Conference and showed up all by himself. We went back to visit him to follow up on his prayer (we had just invited him to pray to know if what we were teaching him was true or not). He told us he found it hard to pray every morning and night, and I thought, "Great! He's already trying to say his prayers and we just told him to pray once." Keep in mind that this is the man who until last week had not entered into any church whatsoever. But then it got better. He said, "so, if I feel like if I'm going to forget, I just do them in the afternoon." ... Is there really not someone with a hidden camera fiming this? Sometimes in my mission the responses come too perfect, or the ridiculous situations just too unreal to be true.

We also had a bittersweet ending with another investigator named Daniel. He is 16 years old and the brother of Lucía one of the people that have been baptized in my time here. They've had some huge family struggles, and Daniel came here to find work, but to no avail. So, he was going to go back to the small town and get what work he could to help support his other 5 younger siblings. We had just gotten him adjusted to Allende and the church. When he got here he didn't believe in God. But he left with a strong testimony of the Book of Mormon and prayer. We were able to take him for a walk on the beach and we taught him what little we could the night before he very abruptly left to go home. As we were leaving him, he turned to me and said, "You know, ever since I met you guys, I kinda thought it would be cool to be a missionary." What do you say to a teenager like that? I tried to do all I could for him, but there was nothing I could do for him, as much as I would have wished for him to stay. Seeing him leave without getting baptized, and not knowing when or if he would ever make it back leaves you wondering if things really can be ok for a person like that. Especially when you know the nearest church is 2 hours away from his house and he already doesn't have money. So, I looked and Elder Hernandez, then to Daniel, and we said, "Well, today you are going to be a missionary." And he went out his last day with us to teach the gospel.

Can we always be sure that it really is going to be alright? You can't really say that it will, unless you have a firm faith in Christ; if you have a bright hope that His promises will be fulfilled. That we may each do our part, so that everything will be alright.

Elder Andrews

Note: The subject of this e-mail likely stems from the fact that Elder Andrews is now serving beyond the expected 24 months.

Monday, June 30, 2014

A Small Invitation

This week ended quickly as we had a Zone Conference with the Mission President and all of Coatzacoalcos as well as Stake Conference right afterward. So, really the week just got a little shorter. It was odd to hear the Mission President speak in Stake Conference about Marriage. I guess the rumors that when you finish your mission all you hear is about is marriage have proven true. But, it would have been nice to ride out a few more weeks to finish first.

We have been looking for new investigators as always. I will share the story of just one. We often contact the taxi drivers as they transport us across Allende. They are among the friendliest and quickest to give their address seeing as they are never home to tell us no either. But, we do the best we can. One day we went at the appointed time to look for one taxi driver we had met, but no one seemed to know him. Oops. So, we kept asking. The good news is that taxi drivers know the city as well and so they are precise with giving directions. So, we knew we were in the right spot, but he was clearly not there. So, we asked and asked and one man even ran inside his house. I turned to Elder Hernandez a bit perplexed and wondered if we should just leave. We decided to stay and wait for him to appear again in his doorway on the second story of his apartment complex. He came out with his light bill. "I was just checking to see what number my house was to help you, I'm new here and I don't know anyone." Wow, what a helpful person we thought. And he just moved here, what a better opportunity to invite him to get to know the church and the members. So, we passed into his apartment where he lives with a few other friends (all grown men that work in projects in the oil refineries here nearby).

We began explaining the Book of Mormon and a few other things to him and eventually invited him to the Stake Conference in Coatza two days later. He said he'd like that and even promised himself he would go before we could even commit him. It was not very likely he would show up since he hardly knew Allende, less so was he going to know his way around a bigger city like Coatza. Nonetheless, we got him all the information he would need to arrive as we would still be in Coatza ourselves and therefore unable to pass by for him. And so we waited, greeting every single person that entered, waiting for him as we had promised. We greeted every single person, and the meeting started. So, we had to go inside to be with the members and converts from our ward that had arrived. About 15 minutes into the program a bishop of another ward helped a man towards the front of the chapel. That was our contact! He showed up! Upon speaking with [him] afterward he told us that because of his job and a little bit of disinterest, he had never entered inside of any church before. He said he showed up to the church and just felt terrible. He had a huge weight on his shoulders. But when he listened to the messages and was sitting in the church he felt a great relief (maybe because his wife died a while back).

The Lord puts people in front of us each day that we can bless by simply sharing something simple or a small invitation. How many more people would be blessed in the world if each of us shared the gospel with one person each day? It is my prayer that we can always look for these opportunities in our own lives to be instruments in our Savior's hands.

Elder Andrews


The Mission President is the leader of the missionaries within the mission boundaries.
Stake Conference is a semi-annual meeting of multiple congregations (Wards and sometimes Branches) that constitute a larger organizational unit called a "Stake."

Monday, June 23, 2014

Letter #92 from Mexico

So, this week was interesting. Serbando was ordained a deacon yesterday. He has already accompanied us 3 full Saturdays to teach the gospel. He's really come a long way, and his parents are somewhat helpful. We have a good relation with them although their busy schedule does not permit them to talk with us too much or be involved in the Church. His mom even bought him some dress pants. So, we're going well. 

We had an interesting week. We were trying to leave Aristeo behind since he has showed little progress in the past weeks, but when we went out with the recently released Bishop Carrasco (way cool, 70 years old) to teach we were teaching him how to contact people. We were going with Aristeo's neighbor and he wasn't there so he contacted Aristeo! Haha. About 30 minutes after sharing their life stories he realized that we had already been teaching him. Haha. I tried to whisper it in his ear when he started to talk to him, but I guess it didn't stick. It brought me back good old memories of home teaching with my dad. Some times old people can talk a lot! As to not be rude we tried to sit through it, but it was an extra effort to let them make their connections for more than an hour. 

Aside from that, we have been talking to everyone we can see. We started teaching Mario--a man who is half blind. He recognizes us because we show up glowing he says (for our white shirts, mine is more yellow though). For the same, he is unable to read. But, he likes that we visit him, because no one else does. 

We found another family that are Pentecostés. We introduced everything in the first lesson and they decided that Joseph Smith did talk to God but that the Book of Mormon was not true and not necessary. I wanted to shout "What!?!" It has always been the other way around, but there is a first for everything. I just don't know how they got to that conclusion, but we convinced them to let us go one more time today and so we'll see how things go. 

On the brigther side we found A&W Root Beer one day when we crossed to Coatza and Elder Hernandez was always told it was sin because it said Beer. So, he hs a new addiction.

Take care of yourselves,
Elder Andrews


Pentecostés = Pentecostals

Elder Hernandez learns the joy of A&W Root Beer from Elder Andrews.

Monday, June 16, 2014


Another week of work. We kept on going with Serbando Vicente, the young teenager that has gone out to preach with us twice now. It is quite the surprise that he could be so involved already, but he has made quite a few changes since we had met him. He is yet another example of the people that are waiting to hear the gospel message. During General Conference last April we contacted him in the street. And now he is another future missionary we have. He even walks around with us all day in a shirt and tie!

As for Aristeo, his desire to stay in his personal situation has impeded him from living up to what he knows to be true. It is always easier to just decide not to. And that is the path he has chosen up to this point. So, there is less and less we can do for him.

As for me, just got informed of a meeting to get to tomorrow, so I'll be off to prepare everything to be off and running bright and early in the morning!

Just keep in mind that what you choose to do in a day really can affect the life of another.

Love you all,
Elder Andrews

Elder Andrews, Serbando Vicente (?), and Elder Hernandez.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Decisions to Destiny

A full week of work ending in the new realization that I am at last the of the oldest in the mission. Yesterday we had to leave our services early to drop of one of the missionries [sic] that was serving here in Allende at the bus station in Coatza. By no [sic] he is home to Honduras.

As for Aristeo, another creative and hard week at work. Although his testimony of the truthfulness of the Gospel is ever incresing [sic], his conversion hs [sic] been dwindling in the dumps. This week we had two very direct lessons where he understood very well that he was living in sin and needed to do something about it. I felt a bit like a lawyer presenting a case. One day we taught him all the reasons why he needed to leave his "partner" right now. He knew that he had to stop certain parts of his relationship, but we showed him the effect that the other woman had on his children. It came down to him picking between his children or second wife. He said he couldn't make that decision, which, ironically is choosing to stay the same with the second wife. Still funny to me that sometimes we say we can't decide, but already saying that is your decision! He said he would leave it to God and if God didn't want them to be togther [sic] then the relationship would magically just take its separate way. When he said that, I couldn't help but think of 2 Nephi 2:14 "both things to act and things to be acted upon." When you "decide" not to act, you are really deciding that someone else will decide for you. Do you want to take control of your own life? Man up! We made it somewhat clear to him, but the large desire he has had of staying with his girlfriend has kept him from obeying the commandments.

A few days later we went with him to explain to him that we were not there to make his decisions, but that we would explain to him the doctrine in a way that he would be able to know what is right and how to put his life in order and fulfill the commandments of God. We went and shared a general conference talk given by Russell M. Nelson titled Celestial Marriage that talks about his parable of the shoplifter. We helped him to realize that if he really loved his partner, he would show the proper care to love her correctly and give her all she is worth. We left the talk and he agreed to keep praying about it.

After all that hard work, he skipped English Class (he is our best student) and still has not come to Church! So, not much more we can do for him until he decides to quit condemning himself. But its [sic] okay, the Law of Chastity is always a fun one to teach too. For all of you I would advise this simple proverb: "25 Lust not after her beauty in thine heart; neither let her take thee with her eyelids.
 26 For by means of a whorish woman a man is brought to a piece of bread: and the adulteress will hunt for the precious life." Proverbs 6:25-26. Learn from Aristeo and see that it is the ONLY thing standing between him and his eternal salvation.

As for other news, another investigator we have, Serbando (13), has been pretty active with us, but has had little support from the ward. How do we fix that? No one goes to visit him, and he lives right next to the church! So, I got a tie, Elder Hernandez grabbed a white shirt and we got him to go out with us all Saturday to preach with us. We took him to go preach to the members and that turned out well. He will be getting baptized this Saturday. We found him because we said hello to him twice in one day on our way to and from General Conference. So, always be looking for the people placed in your path.

Every member a missionary.

Your decisions will always affect another's.

Elder Andrews

Monday, June 2, 2014

A Lack of Interest

Due to various circumstances, we were not able to pass by with Aristeo or really any other intvestigator much this week. We had interviews with President Morales which took up almost an entire day although he had very little questions for me or my companion. We sat and watched as several companionships took quite a bit of time in the office with him. So, we waited our turn, as we listened to Sister Morales speak about all the various rules we needed to remember. Then it was our turn, we both passed first and he asked how we felt being companions, asked Elder Hernandez to step outside and he asked me all the worthiness questions in about 30 seconds. I stepped outside a few moments later and one of the Assistants to the President, who was on the plane with me here, said, "Wow, you repented fast." Haha. But, a few moments later and my companion had gone through his interview just as fast. So, I assume we don't have many problems and we will finish how we are.

That's good because a couple of weeks ago we got attacked by dogs at 9 PM. I knew it was coming so I took a big stick going in, but while we were there our youth convert took it to play air guitar and forgot to bring it with him on the way out. So, him and Elder Hernandez rushed back and I put myself as a bear and roared. Didn't work too much, and right as too dogs were about to bite me, Elder Hernandez threw water at them. Imagine that, I didn't even get mad at him for getting me wet!

Anyway, due to the lack of time we were able to put in with Aristeo, he was affected greatly by no one and everyone. He said he had a "lack of interest" in the Book of Mormon.

Interest -- the feeling of a person whose attention, concern, or curiosity is particularly engaged by something.

Trying to stay as patient as possible, inside I was screaming, "Lack of interest, what do you mean a lack of interest! You were the one that wanted the book in the first place!" But, as we kept our cool we were able to realize that he had just forgotten his interest becuase he was the only one who had it. Being surrounded by people who don't share your beliefs can be costly on your own testimony, especially as you have your own doubts. We were able to establish that he knew that it was important but that he just didn't know how important, or why it was so important. So, we helped him on that one as well in 2 Nephi 29, as teaching the Book of Mormon is also one of my favorite principles to repeatedly teach. The next day we went back and his life had changed once again. "No, I was wrong, it is important," he said.

All this to an outside viewer could make a person say, "Just make up your mind already!" But what made the change? What made him accept, reject, and then accept again? How could someone change so much. The answer is that, he read! He reads anything we specifically assign him, and he reads it well! But when we tried to get him to read from the beginning, he "lost interest". So, we are working towards the day that he can gain the courage to take control of the situation, but his marital situation makes it near impossible for us to continue much farther.

A similar situation happened a few weeks ago when we had another convert. She had been attending Church on and off for 3 years. As she started she was not married until about 5 months ago. I had taught her before with Elder Smiley, but she didn't want much to do with us. One day we decided to stop by and talk. We challenged her to get baptized again. She accepted. I couldn't believe it. We put a date for a week. She accepted. I couldn't believe it. We prepared her for a week. She kept saying yes. I couldn't believe it. She passed her interview. I couldn't believe it. Elder Hernandez baptized her. I couldn't believe it. She got confirmed. I couldn't believe it. She came to church again. I couldn't believe it.

It has taught me once more that in my two years I have not converted anyone. I have simply been placed in the places I have and done the best I could to help the people I should to continue on with their righteous desires. It sounds almost, in an odd but real way, that I have done nothing for these past 2 years, because I haven't. Were they wasted? I would say no. Because I have learned so much more of what I have to do and who I need to be. If I hadn't been in the places I have been, could it be that all these people would have made the choices they have? I would say, no. I wouldn't trade what I have learned for any other experience. I have had a front row seat to see the hand of God in the lives of others as well as my own.

Could your example change the interests of another? I would say yes. As I said in my farewell talk in La Place, Louisiana, "Many people are willing to change the world, but few are willing to change themselves."

Are you?

Be more Christ-like.

Elder Andrews


This excerpt from the Missionary Handbook will help explain a bit about Assistants to the President, baptismal interviews, and the like.